A 14-month-old infant from Pakistan, who had a “giant heart”, underwent a successful operation at a private hospital in the capital. According to doctors, this is the first documented case of the largest left atrium reported at this age. The boy was diagnosed after his parents noticed he was breathless and unable to sleep.
According to doctors, the left atrium, or left chamber of his heart, had grown to 87 ml.
Unable to crawl due to breathlessness, the boy also had trouble eating and his parents complained that he suffered from recurrent chest infections.
His weight was stuck at 6.5 kg which, according to doctors, is half the normal weight expected at this age.
“Due to the complexity of the case, the family was told
to seek treatment outside Pakistan. When the infant came to us, we were surprised to see his weight. We found that the left side receiving chamber of the heart (the left atrium) was hugely dilated… to four times the expected size, and was pressing on the airway organs in the chest,” said Dr Neeraj Aggarwal, paediatric cardiologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
During investigation, doctors found three major problems in the child’s heart — he had a large hole; the left valve of the heart was leaking; and he had a giant left atrium (GLA).
As per the doctors, any child beyond three months can be operated on in a single-stage surgery.
“An open heart surgery was performed on the boy in which the hole was closed, the valve repaired and giant left atrium reduced in size. GLA is a rare entity in paediatric population, but carries a significant mortality risk,” said Dr Raja Joshi, chairman, paediatric cardiac surgery at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
The case study has been accepted for publication in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
The entire surgery was completed in 5.5 hours and the cost of the treatment was around Rs 3 lakh. The infant was discharged after spending seven days in the hospital.
“We see a lot of parents saying no to surgeries. One needs to understand that long-term survival is important and the successful results of complex heart diseases are possible in small children, even in India. Parents of such children should be encouraged to come forward and opt for the treatment rather than leaving the child to suffer,” added Dr Aggarwal.
Doctors said that only a few cases of GLA have been reported in children below two years.